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How a Gawker video instigated embarrassment among female athletes

posted by ...Because I Played Sports
Friday, November 12, 2010 at 9:12am EST

The goal of …Because I Played Sports is to bring a voice to women’s sports online. As former athletes, we promise to do what we can to bring as much as we can to achieve gender equality in editorial coverage of contemporary female athletics. We’re here to vocalize what many sports editors are ignorantly missing… females.

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Snapshot from a YouTube video that's simply not funny

A video was flying around the Internet this morning, and I debated all day whether or not I wanted to write about it. I chose to move forward because it’s a topic that needs to be discussed.

I received the below video in an email with the title “HOLY CRAP” followed by a chain of laughter. It was forwarded to me innocently by a male friend who thought I’d find it funny. There’s only one problem.. I didn’t.

I was offended and embarrassed, something that I expressed to everyone in the email chain. Embarrassment is something, unfortunately, that female athletes often feel. And it needs to stop.

The below video was posted on Gawker with the title “The Most Intensely Horrible High School Girls’ Hurdle Race You’ll Ever See.”  Matt Cherette, the author, said “it had me in stitches” with a call to action to his readers –  ”you need to watch immediately.”

With 1/2 a million unique visitors to the site per month, many Gawker readers followed through with his ask. The video went viral within minutes. The site now has over 200,000 YouTube views, which doesn’t even count those that the site organically generated.

Here’s the problem.. Female athletes, to be specific, young female athletes – are the victims.

Nothing about this video, in my opinion, is funny. The girls in this video are trying desperately to compete in a sport that’s obviously new to them. It is crystal clear that these young girls are not coached appropriately, and because of that, their safety is at risk. This situation is in no way funny, it’s scary. And the school should be held responsible.

Not to mention, the embarrassment… These girls, who are self-conscious enough at this age, are already embarrassed having gone through this experience publicly. Now, thanks to Gawker, it’s amplified through mass syndication to the world. It’s one thing for Gawker to pick on celebrities, but it’s another to go after young kids who trying to compete in a sport. I’m willing to bet that not one of these young ladies will walk on to a track again. And with all of the benefits that sport brings to a woman’s life, this, my friends, is a tragedy.

This is online journalism gone very, very bad. I share this not in an attempt to bring attention to it. But rather bring heightened awareness.  Before hitting the FWD button on this video (or any others like it), people need to re-think what they’re actually doing as well as its potential impact.

Mr. Cherette, you need to re-think your editorial decisions. Central Catholic High School, you need to be a lot more responsible for your high school coaching staff.

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There are 5 comments on this post. Join the discussion!

thesixthwoman says:

Agreed - not funny. Honestly, I don't see the humor. It just looks like people are laughing at beginners, which is pathetic. You know - you fall down - me laugh. har har har. What should these runners do? Not compete? Frankly, I was expecting far, far worse -- like some poor girl's shorts slipping down or something, which might justify more curiosity around the puerile interwebs.

Friday, November 12, 2010 at 2:27pm EST

mcjack says:

not funny at all. these are kids trying to learn. laughing at this video is like laughing at the grade school kid who can't read as well as his/her peers. i know us guys take some cheap shots at women's sports sometimes, but this definetely crosses the line, and i assure you that no dads find this the least bit humorous.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:03am EST

mcjack says:

not funny at all. these are kids trying to learn. laughing at this video is like laughing at the grade school kid who can't read as well as his/her peers. i know us guys take some cheap shots at women's sports sometimes, but this definetely crosses the line, and i assure you that no dads find this the least bit humorous.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:08am EST

mcjack says:

not funny at all. these are kids trying to learn. laughing at this video is like laughing at the grade school kid who can't read as well as his/her peers. i know us guys take some cheap shots at women's sports sometimes, but this definetely crosses the line, and i assure you that no dads find this the least bit humorous.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:09am EST

stephaniemp says:

This is SO upsetting! I had an interaction with and prevented some COLLEGE track and field runners (males) who were taping the women's steeple water pit for laughs as well. It's unfortunate that this happens, and although bloopers are funny in some cases. when it comes to learning a sport (especially when the person involves is clearly embarrassed and hurt) people need to think twice!

Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 9:17pm EST

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